cook was "that light and talked away to any man." Contrasting with herself, Stevens, who "didn't 'old with making herself cheap."
Margaret wrote slowly, even if it were only a letter. She had to recall her mood, to analyse the panic. She was quite calm now. His letter seemed exaggerated beyond what the occasion or the telegram demanded.
How good you are, and safe. Your letter calmed and comforted me. Panic! no other word describes my condition at four o'clock this morning after a sleepless night. Servants' gossip was at the bottom of it. I have always wished for a dumb maid, but Stevens' tongue is hung on vibrating wires, never still. There was a man, it seems now he was a suitor of cook's! He did ask questions, but chiefly as to her hours off duty, whether she was already "walking out," an expression for an engagement on probation, I understand. He was an aspirant. I cannot write you a proper letter, my bad night has turned me into a wreck, a "beautiful ruin" as you would say. No, you wouldn't, you are too polite. You must take it then that all is well; except that your choice has fallen upon a woman easily unnerved. Was I so foolish after all? James is capable of any blackguardism, he would hate that I should be happy with you. He can no longer excuse his conduct to me, or my resentment of it on the plea that I am unlike other women. I know his mind so well! "Women of genius have no sex," he said among other things